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Reds' Billy Hamilton Pioneer League player of the year


   The Reds place three players in Baseball America’s Pioneer League Top 20, including Player of the Year Billy Hamilton.

   Hamilton, 19, is a 6-foot-1, 160-pound, switch-hitting second baseman whom BA says has potential to be Luis Castillo in Castillo’s prime. That means a top base stealer, top-notch defense and a high batting average. Speed is Hamilton’s chief asset, as he is an 80 runner on scouts’ 20-80 scale. He scoots to first base in a blazing 3.65 seconds. Hamilton’s line was 2-24-.318/.383/.456 at Billings. In 283 at bats, Hamilton smacked 13 doubles and 10 triples. He was successful on 48 of 57 stolen base attempts, struck out 56 times and walked 28. Hamilton made just six errors in 55 games at second base, but his range and arm make shortstop a real possibility.


   Outfielder Yorman Rodriguez is ranked fifth. A 6-3, 180-pound native of Venezuela, Rodriguez just finished his second stint in Billings where he played more right than center. He went 2-39-.339/.361/.456 with 12 stolen bases in 14 attempts. Rodriguez smacked eight doubles and three triples, struck out 30 times and walked eight. He did all this while being the youngest starter in the league. Rodriguez has excellent opposite field power and his pitch recognition improved over last season. His arm bodes well for right field.

   Corcino, 20 and a right-handed starter, checked in at No. 11. He, too, made his second tour of the Pioneer League, but shifted from the bullpen to the rotation. Corcino has plus “stuff.” He holds his 92-94 m.p.h. velocity deep into starts and has hit 96. Corcino features a four-seam fastball and a two-seamer with sink to go with an outstanding slider and a developing change. He went 1-3 with a 3.40 ERA. In 40 innings Corcino allowed 38 hits, struck out 31 and walked 17 as foes batted .255. He has drawn some Johnny Cueto comparisons.

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